Everyday, countless people stroll up and down grocery store aisles making selections to nourish themselves and their families.
We are highly influenced by the shapes, sizes, colors, and words that define these product brands. With time, we may even begin to establish an attachment to certain products, making our ritual market runs predictable and mindless.
In so many ways, we are deeply involved and invested in these choices, yet, how many of us actually know what goes into the products we support and where and how they are sourced?
Due to our rapid-paced, convenient-food culture, consumers tend to know very little or nothing about the products they’re purchasing, and companies know that most people do not care enough to make these corporations change their ways.
It is my hope to shed light onto one of the most destructive, non-sustainable food ingredients prevalent on our shelves today: palm oil.
It’s already well-known to be destructive on our environment and wildlife, yet somehow, this sneaky ingredient has managed to find its way into nearly fifty percent of packaged products in the US today.
- Packaged noodles
- Your favorite snack foods
- Washing detergents
- Hygiene products
- ….and so much more
Why Should You Care?
- Palm oil is now recognized as one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction as rampant plantation growth devastates some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
- Palm oil is responsible for globally significant carbon pollution.
- According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area equal the distance of 300 football fields of rainforest is destroyed each HOUR to create room for the palm oil industry.
- Precious rainforests are burned in order to clear land for plantation development, adding to the already prevalent issue of human induced climate change.
- The release of smoke into the atmosphere from these deforestation practices has given Indonesia the rank of the third highest ranking greenhouse emitter in the world.
These circumstances alone are enough to sound the alarm, but unfortunately, it’s just the beginning of the devastation.
Loss of Habitat
- More than 190 threatened species are impacted by the palm oil industry’s deforestation practices. Some of the most vulnerable animals, such as the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran and Bornean orangutan are on the verge of extinction as their habitats are wiped away.
- The orangutan, the irreplaceable poster-child for the anti-palm-oil industry, is predicted to become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years if we do not bring these practices to a halt. An estimated 1000-5000 orangutans are killed each year due to over 90% of their habitat being destroyed in the past 20 years. The United Nations has dubbed this situation a conservation emergency.
Our pleasure and modern-day consumer conveniences are occurring at the expense of our ecosystems, and these damages will be irreversible if we do not create change NOW.
Human Right Violations
- Indigenous Peoples are forcefully removed from their communities and precious land.
- Drinking water from streams and rivers that once provided clean hydration have dried up due to water being redirected and privatized by plantations.
- Local people are deprived of opportunities to create alternative, environmentally sustainable businesses. This lack of economic potential adds pressure for local people to work for the very plantations that rob them, exposing them to hazardous conditions leading to long-term health impacts.
- Child labor and modern-day slavery still occur on these plantations. This is a very real issue.
What You Can Do
So why am I telling you all of this? Because sadly, we’re the ones paying for it.
- Get clear and real on what the true cost of our purchases are by researching everything. The industries are deliberately and effectively omitting the truth from us, and it's our job to put the time in to look for the truth.
- Shine the light of awareness on this issue by talking and writing about it (with love, not judgment, please).
- Spend money only on products that come from industries that align with our values to protect the planet, its precious creatures and each other.
Too often, we are lead to believe that our individual choices are too small to make a difference. But united as consumers, we have the ability to shift our consumerism landscape to trend towards longevity, sustainability and integrity for all.
Spread the word. Share this article. Support this issue coming into the collective awareness by sharing it in dialogue or in social media. And most importantly, leave palm oil products out of your shopping cart.
Join me in saying “no” to palm oil.
To learn more about the Palm Oil industry and what you can do, please visit:
Take the 28 day palm oil challenge: